Games

Pink And Powerful

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 14:00

Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Good Feel Release: March 8, 2019 Rating: Everyone Platform: 3DS

Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii was one of the most aesthetically pleasing and adorable titles on the system, if not on any system. The yarn theme brought Kirby to life in a different way than his previous games, making for a fun, albeit extremely easy, Kirby platformer focused mostly on having a breezy adventure. Now, Nintendo is planning to release the game on the 3DS in a new port with a few changes.

The first major change is a new difficulty called Devilish mode, which gives Kirby a life bar for the first time in Epic Yarn. In the original release, Kirby could not die, taking damage or falling in a pit merely gave deducted beads from his total score. In the 3DS-exclusive Devilish mode, Kirby can take enough damage to lose a life and have to restart the level.

In addition, Devilish mode introduces Kirby's own Mr. X to stalk him throughout the levels, though perhaps not quite as intimidating. A flying devil hovers around Kirby using different styles to attack him, like dropping enemies down from above. While you can toss enemies at the devil and eventually defeat it, it comes back before too long to keep chasing you throughout levels. The devil makes standing around collecting beads much more difficult.

Attacking enemies is now a little bit easier than it was before, as well. In the original release, Kirby could not swallow enemies to absorb powers. While he still can't do that with the same breadth as in other titles in the series, he can now gain the ability to create and thrown yarn balls in different directions. When he grapples an enemy, Kirby can throw a large yarn ball that goes through multiple enemies or obstructions. Without anything to grapple on to, Kirby creates a smaller yarn ball, which is still quite useful.

One notable loss for the 3DS version is the lack of co-op, which was a fundamental feature of the Wii game. Prince Fluff, Kirby's royal blue friend, still makes an appearance in the game, but only to give helpful items. Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn is now only a single-player affair.

Two new minigame modes have been added to Extra Epic Yarn, titled Slash and Bead and DeDeDe GoGoGo. Slash and Bead is a time attack mode using Kirby's rival Metaknight, giving him unique levels to run through and kill as many enemies he can as fast as possible. DeDeDe GoGoGo stars, of course, King DeDeDe, essentially putting him in a runner. The penguin must navigate obstacles in the way by smashing them, ducking under them, or just not jumping into them for a high score.

As the 3DS begins to wind down development and Nintendo moves their focus to the Switch, a somewhat under-the-radar Wii port seems like a strange swansong for the aging handheld, but it's easy to forget what a quality title it was originally. Whether the changes make for a more compelling experience or a reason to play it again will be answered when the game releases on March 8.

Categories: Games

Three's Company

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 10:00

Developer: Capcom Release: March 8, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Devil May Cry has had an odd journey over the last decade, going from the well-liked but flawed Devil May Cry 4 to the reboot DmC: Devil May Cry, the series seemed be in an involuntary state of retirement. Even after Devil May Cry 5 was announced, I still had worries about how the game could match up to expectations after ten years of waiting. The question of whether Capcom could make a worthy successor to Devil May Cry 4, or possibly Devil May Cry 3, still rang in my mind. There are so many possible points of failure for a game like this that it’s hard to be completely optimistic.

After playing the first 11 missions and getting my hands on Nero, V, and Dante, I believe any doubts I had seem unfounded.

The first eleven missions in the game skip around between the three characters, starting with Nero, interceding with V, and finishing with Dante. While Nero has been playable at trade shows and publicly available demos, the extent to which his new buster arms make a difference is hard to understate. While the first few seen in the game are fairly similar, offering small changes to Nero’s combos, but they soon become the equivalent of Dante’s weapons. The Punch Line can be used to keep enemies off your back, but can also be used to prolong an air combo or keep an aggressive enemy tame while you ready your next revved-up hit. It’s also fun to watch enemies repeatedly get punched with a rocket arm while you stand just outside their range and taunt.

Dante plays similarly to how he did in Devil May Cry 4, which is to say he is complicated. Between his multitude of weapons and four styles, players who master Dante have the strongest character in the game, if not all character action games, at their fingertips. The four styles of Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royal Guard all return, with Royal Guard having a slightly bigger window for parries than before. One big change is that you can choose how many weapons Dante brings into each level with him, so you don’t need to worry about messing up a multi-weapon combo by switching to a weapon you never use.

The final question mark of Devil May Cry 5, the enigmatic V, takes a while to get used to. Rather than doing any direct fighting himself, V leaves the fighting to his demon bird Griffon and demon panther Shadow. Griffon primarily acts as a long-range weapon using shots and spells, while Panther rushes in with melee attacks. The proper way to play as V is to use both these characters in concert, as they can act independently of what the other one is doing, while dodging around enemy attacks as V. A third monster, Nightmare, can be summoned when V uses his Devil Trigger, though it acts mostly on its own with tremendous force.

Figuring V out takes work, and occasionally had me wishing for a third character more in line with mainstays like Vergil, Nero, and Dante. Over time, though, I learned to appreciate V’s uniqueness and the different way he played. Devil May Cry makes all its playable characters unique, but V takes it to another level, and I walked away from his levels wanting to explore high-level combos with him.

This demo was also the first time I had to try Devil May Cry 5’s multiplayer aspect, known in the game as The Cameo System. During stages, characters that would also be in the area can be seen in the distance, or sometimes even in the arena with you, will be fighting enemies. The game will inform you that their role is being played by a player’s username as you view their ghost data or actual gameplay fighting enemies in the distance. In the demo we played, it was entirely ghost data from the Devil May Cry team, and I could watch them from a distance and see some techniques I wanted to try.

Since characters are often in the same place at the same time, some missions offered the ability to choose your character. One stage gave me the option of going through it as Nero or V, which means there’s some added replay value to going through old stages without making it mandatory, and thus repetitive, like Devil May Cry 4 did.

The newest action game in the series feels like a dream to play, as previous ones did as well. You are unlikely to ever blame the game’s controls for foibles and mistakes, though you will end up blaming your fingers for inelegant action as you tumble from a double-S rank to a B in a moment. Style is still the name of the game, but throughout my time with this demo, I was enjoying every second of my time comboing enemies and fighting bosses. With three characters to play with and a ton of hidden weapons, extra arms, and dozens of unlockable moves, Devil May Cry 5 looks to have a lot of enjoyable seconds.

You can also check out video from our demo in a New Gameplay Today where Leo Vader, Joe Juba, and Suriel Vasquiz grill me about about the game and whether Vergil is in it (probably).

Devil May Cry 5 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 8.

Categories: Games

Cyborg Villain Raidou Returns To Dead Or Alive 6

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 19:45
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Developer: Team Ninja Release: February 15, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Before its delay, we'd be right on the eve of Dead or Alive 6's release. We'll be seeing it just two weeks later, but the developers have one last reveal before the game comes out in the form of Raidou, Dead or Alive's longtime cybernetic villain.

You can check out his reveal trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Much like previous games, Raidou's fighting style is a brutal mix of incredibly hard hits, slams, and dark energy attacks signature to him. He also just slaps you around for fun.

Raidou has a villainous backstory that has been less emphasized in Dead or Alive's storyline over the years, but suffice it to say, everyone really wants to kill him and it's not taken despite how many times they've succeeded in doing it. It will be interesting to see whether he is incorporated into the game's story at all.

Dead or Alive 6 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 1.

Categories: Games

We're In Endgame

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 18:45
Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

One of the keys of multiplayer titles meant to last forever is how the game handles things when the curtains close on the story. For a lot of people, the campaign is only a prelude to the real game which they'll spend most of their time on, so the post-game has to be as good as possible to keep those people happy. Bioware and EA have released a trailer outlining specifically how Anthem is going to handle all that endgame content for players who hope to play Anthem for a long time.

You can check out the new video below.

Click here to watch embedded media

One of the things you can look forward to are a multitude of difficulty options for your tasks, all the way up to the specific level of Grandmaster3. Like any good loot game, there's plenty of gear for you to pick up in the endgame and Javelins to upgrade as well.

We got a taste of the endgame a little while ago and still feel like it has to prove itself. Does this video convince you of Anthem's post-game tail?

Anthem releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 22.

Categories: Games

Assassin's Creed III Remastered Gets Release Date And Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 18:35
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Release: November 13, 2012 Rating: Mature Platform: Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Ratonhnhaké:ton (a.k.a. Connor) makes the leap to current generation hardware for anyone looking to fill any gaps in their Assassin's Creed history. The release date is March 29 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, so you won't have to wait too long to get started. The trailer shows what made the game stand out when it originally released in 2012 like climbing on trees and its impressive naval battles. It also highlights the graphical differences from that original version with better lighting and character models that make use of the hardware change.

https://twitter.com/assassinscreed/status/1093179293813952512

The most important aspect of this release, though, is that in addition to Assassin's Creed III and all of its DLC, you will also get Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Remastered as part of the same purchase. The Vita game was an excellent side-story that many people skipped over because it was exclusive to a handheld, but Aveline's story is well worth seeing through if you missed the Vita version or its later port to 360 and PS3.

For anyone with the Assassin's Creed Odyssey season pass, these two games will be included with that purchase, but this release date is for the standalone product. There was, though, no word in the trailer of the recently rumored Switch version of the game, so there might yet be more news on this game forthcoming.

Categories: Games

Time Is Of The Essence

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 15:05

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Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Bandai Namco Release: February 8, 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

Customization – whether it's visual or via multi-faceted weapons – is a big part of God Eater 3 (PS4 and PC), and what better way to rise to a fight against the Aragami than with a co-op crew ready for the occasion?

The game is out very soon – February 8 – and its latest trailer shows off timed Assault Missions featuring eight players. The task? Taking down powerful foes within a five-minute time limit.

Assault Missions aren't the game's only multiplayer. For more on this front, check out Imran's hands-on impressions of God Eater 3. Also check out this previous trailer.

[Source: Official PlayStation Blog]

Categories: Games

Sunless Skies Review - Text Appeal

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 00:00

Would you like to hear a Tale of Terror or a Sky-Story? Relay some Salon-Stewed Gossip or pass on a Savage Secret? The names given to the various forms of currency exchanged across Sunless Skies give you a good idea of what sort of game it is. This is a world where words flow like water and stories hydrate whole planets. Where a turn of phrase is just as likely to unlock a door as the turn of a key.

Sunless Skies is a narrative-heavy adventure where every dramatic event is conveyed through beautifully written text. A delicate, customizable layer of "rogue-lite" action and survival encases a beating heart of vivid location descriptions, verbal flights of fancy, and giddy, spiraling story paths. Developer Failbetter Games has cleverly built upon the foundation of Sunless Sea, designing a sequel that improves core mechanics and spins its world into imaginative new orbits while easing the avenue of entry for new players. You're welcome here as long as you love words.

The British Empire, headed by Empress Victoria, has boarded its steam-powered engines and, improbably, made for the stars. There, amid the floating drifts of rock snaking across the sky, it has founded New Albion and, by remaking the Sun, it hopes to start again. It's an eccentric vision of outer space as alien territory where polar winds blow through ice-crusted canyons, hive-shaped asteroids drip honey, and myriad fungal spores glitter like stars. You play the captain of Her Majesty's Locomotive, the Orphean, newly inherited after the untimely death of the previous captain, and your ambition is to travel the stars seeking fame, fortune, or the truth.

Dotted around the New Wilderness, which is composed of four maps you may travel between once you've earned the appropriate permits, are dozens of busy ports and isolated homesteads. You pilot the Orphean between them, revealing new points of interest on the top-down 2D map and working to ensure you've packed enough fuel and supplies to make it to your destination. While docked you can repair and re-supply your engine, purchase any available upgrades, and visit the bazaar to claim prospects and earn additional revenue through trade.

Once that admin is out of the way, you can take your time to explore. Each port is well-stocked with fascinating locations and idiosyncratic characters. Buy a ticket to Polmear & Plenty's Circus and enjoy a show where the clowns can't juggle and the trapeze artist has lost their partner. Encounter an Inadvisably Big Dog at Port Prosper while seeking to aid the establishment Stove-pipes in their civil war against the revolutionary Tacketies. Travel to Hybras in search of a lost filmmaker and discover an entire colony of seniors has mysteriously vanished. There's a new captivating story to be found every step of the way.

As you follow each new narrative thread you're called upon to make choices and meet certain requirements. You might find a dying captain whose engine ran aground. Do you: end his suffering, return him home for one last glimpse of London, or escort him and try to complete his final, failed mission? There's something odd about that Repentant Devil you picked up at the previous port, but you'll need to track down some tea before he'll open up to you and reveal his true motivations. The decisions you make can see you gain or lose favor with a host of rival factions as you chart a course through the political struggles of this new frontier.

Every time you are presented with a path of action or choice to make, it's always clear how you have unlocked it. Some are based on having the correct items, purchased at a port or found in an earlier part of the story, while others provide a percentage chance of success depending on one of your character's core attributes. Actions you cannot yet take are grayed out but visible, allowing you to note that you need to find another Vision of the Heavens to make that selection or come back later once you've increased your Hearts attribute and boosted those odds in your favor. It's a clever setup in that you always have the information you need about your immediate options and enough of a nudge towards how to open up new sets of paths.

Between ports, however, things can slow down. Exploring an uncharted region of the map can be tense, especially as you venture into the outskirts and encounter some of the more dangerous enemies. It's also never less than beautiful to look at. But combat is simplistic and, much of the time, completely avoidable anyway. And while puttering the often long distances between points of interest, there's not a great deal to do beyond pinging your bat scout to identify random resource deposits and just watching the maze-like scenery wash by.

Popping up from time to time, and helping to enliven long journeys, are incidents involving the various officers you've recruited on board and your crew. Like the cast of a Mass Effect, each named officer--and like everyone in this world they all sport wonderfully evocative titles like The Incautious Driver or The Incognito Princess--has their own storyline to follow and they serve up some of the best questlines in the entire game. You'll want to check in with them whenever you can and prioritize their next steps.

There's also the ever-lurking concern of the "Terror" itself. As with Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies leans into elements of horror, in particular a kind of horror that draws on the ineffable mystery of the cosmos. Despite reaching the stars in our iron engines, no matter the expertise of all our Phlegmatic Researchers and Romantic Ornithologists, we don't have all the answers. So as you explore the darkest corners of space, and run headlong into the inexplicable, the Terror accumulates. Untreated, the Terror will send your crew, and ultimately you, into madness. But not before you've wasted supplies in a futile effort to placate their fears or lost crew members to horrific accidents.

You can die, of course, at which point you reroll as a new captain and inherit (most of) what could be salvaged of the Orphean. Certain character traits can be "passed on" as it were, a nod to your predecessors' achievements, and any banked goods can be retrieved at a major port. However, in what at first feels like a jarring rebuff, all story progress is reset upon death, leading to the retreading of narrative beats and character interactions. But, in combination, the freedom you have to explore the world, the small random elements it throws up, and the sheer speed at which you can breeze through any previously encountered scenario mean such repetition is ultimately only of minor concern.

There are small flaws, but each is balanced out. Travel can be dull, yet the passing scenery and shifting soundtrack are never so. Combat isn't interesting, but the decision to fight or flee carries weight, and the choices you make when scavenging through the wreckage can feel momentous. Repeating a quest can feel tedious, but this time you're wiser and, hopefully, better prepared.

At its best, Sunless Skies is a triumph. Its writers have crafted a world of endless wonder where seemingly anything is possible. At heart, it's a text adventure that conjures the imagination to send you on a journey as spectacular and memorable as any big-budget graphical blockbuster.

Categories: Games

Fighting To Survive

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 19:15
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: SIE Bend Studio Release: April 26, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

After Days Gone's delay into April, Sony has used the opportunity to supply tons of footage and info about the game over time. Today, Sony Bend has released a new trailer for the game detailing the many zombie types you will be running from and fighting in Days Gone.

Check out the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The video also gets into the various ways you'll be exterminating these different enemies, like substituting a burning crossbow bolt for a molotov in a pinch, or repairing your melee weapons on the fly so you don't get stuck up the creek without a paddle.

Days Gone releases on PlayStation 4 on April 26.

Categories: Games

Asgard's Wrath Is Virtual Reality's Promising New Step

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 18:34

Publisher: Oculus Studios Developer: Sanzaru Games Release: 2019 Platform: PC

In this month's issue, we have the first hands-on preview of Asgard's Wrath, the newest game from Sly Cooper 4 developers at Sanzaru Games. After a number of successful virtual reality titles like Ripcoil and Marvel Powers United, Sanzaru has teamed up with Oculus for a new virtual reality action game unlike any other. Asgard's Wrath hopes to bring a full, uncompromised action journey to the Oculus Rift with a full-length campaign, side quests, boss battles, and more steeped heavily in Norse mythology.

In the feature you can read in the digital issue, you can learn all about the way Asgard's Wrath is bringing the kind of gameplay you would expect from a full-fledged console title with all the benefits of VR. Combat in the game requires every tool at your disposal, including a level of physicality that will make the you feel like you're fighting off the hordes of Hel yourself.

The story of Asgard's Wrath will take players on a tour through Norse mythology with Sanzaru's own spin on it. The game tells the tale of the twilight of the Norse gods as they struggle to maintain relevance in the face of a changing world. With key players like Loki, Odin, Heimdall, and others playing roles in the story, the plot of the game will take players through an epic journey of gods and the humans who worship them.

For fans of virtual reality, or people who have just been waiting to see the medium mature before they jump in, make sure to read all about Asgard's Wrath in our digital issue out today. 

Categories: Games

New MLB The Show 19 Trailer Touches 'Em All

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 16:37

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Developer: SIE San Diego Studio Release: March 26, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4

MLB the Show 19 developer San Diego Studios released a new trailer for the March 26 PS4 title, teasing new wrinkles for the game's modes.

Amidst the trailer's quick cuts of heroic baseball moments are sprinkled in some teases of changes to the game's various modes.

For Road to the Show this includes training minigames, inherent player strengths/weaknesses affecting progression through last year's archetypes, a tiered perks tree, selectable in-game dynamic challenges for attribute growth, and more.

Via the developer's livestream schedule, Diamond Dynasty is undergoing a "paradigm shift" that the trailer hints at via Conquest challenges and new legends like Willie Mays. The trailer shows off the ability to play through iconic moments in legendary players' careers – whether this is part of Diamond Dynasty or an entirely separate mode remains to be seen. The livestream schedule lists a "new game mode" called Moments, but the trailer shows that playing through Babe Ruth's career, for instance, earns you Diamond Dynasty XP and stubs. If Moments is entirely distinct, maybe their progression is tied together via the currencies.

San Diego Studio is hyping gameplay such as more player differentiation, situational awareness, and expression of player attributes, as well as changes to the controversial PCI, and general hitting and pitching improvements.

Finally, for franchise mode lovers, contract extensions are listed, but let's hope there's more for this mode.

For more of what we'd like to see – which includes some of what San Diego Studios has revealed in today's trailer – check out the recent Sports Desk column featuring the MLB the Show 19 wishlist.

[Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment]

Categories: Games

Etrian Odyssey Nexus Review - Where All Paths Cross

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 23:11

For over a decade, the Etrian Odyssey series has been keeping the old-school dungeon crawler RPG alive and well on the DS console family. We've created our own adventurer's guilds and party members time and time again, painstakingly drawn tons of dungeon maps step-by-step, and slain countless numbers of deadly enemies in turn-based combat. Etrian Odyssey Nexus is the series' swan song on the 3DS, and it's a farewell celebration well worth attending, combining many beloved elements from across the whole of the series.

As is usual for the Etrian Odyssey series, you find yourself almost immediately thrust into the game's main story. The floating islands of Lemuria are filled with strange, unexplored lands and a Yggdrasil tree, the secrets of which adventurers come from all the over the world to discover. You must assemble a guild of adventurers, name them, customize their looks and voices, give them basic adventuring skills, and gather them together in a party to explore the mysterious floating islands, dungeon by dungeon, floor by floor.

Character creation and customization in the Etrian Odyssey games has always been a key component, and in Nexus, it's taken to new heights. The interesting fantasy races of Etrian Odyssey V (and their various race-based bonuses and skills) are gone, but that's fairly easy to forgive considering that you have a whopping nineteen classes from across the entire series' history to choose from at the beginning of the game for each character, giving you an incredible amount of freedom in constructing your own personalized band of explorers.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first to assemble an effective party out of the huge amount of choices you're given, especially when several classes have overlap--for example, Pugilists, Ronin, and Ninjas are all "glass cannon"-type classes that emphasize offense and speed over defense, but each will evolve and function very differently over the course of the game. Things get even more in-depth with sub-classes, which become available much later in the game and provide yet another layer of intense customization, allowing you to either augment character strengths or compensate for weaknesses with additional skills from other classes. Sub-classing isn't new to the series, but this feature unlocks far later in Nexus than I had hoped, leaving me sitting on banked skill points I probably could have better used to boost main class skills.

At the very least, if you're unsure which classes would work well in your ideal composition--or you just want some backup you can swap in as situations dictate--you can create a few extra party members and keep them in reserve at the adventurer's guild. You'll get an item early on (the Memory Conch from EO5) that will let you give some EXP earned to members in reserve, so you don't have to level-grind to make lesser-used teammates and new additions viable.

Similarly to Etrian Odyssey IV, once you venture outside of town, you're not given one gigantic dungeon to explore floor by floor but instead presented with a world map that grows as you progress through the game, with multiple sub-areas and dungeons that you explore and map out individually. The airship-flying exploration sections of EO4 that connected these dungeons are gone, replaced with a very simple map you select locations from, which is a bit disappointing since it means fewer fun expeditions and less discovery outside of dungeons--but it also eliminates many of EO4's exploration frustrations like having to navigate hazards.

The meat of Etrian Odyssey, however, has always been its dungeon exploration, and Nexus does not disappoint in that regard. You wander through intricate labyrinths step by step, exploring every nook and cranny for treasures, exits, gimmicks, and various points of interest, jotting all of your findings down on the map on the 3DS's touchscreen. The dungeons themselves take on lives of their own as you spend hours within them; they're filled with distinct graphic flourishes, unique hazards, and terrifying enemies that give a sublime sense of ever-present danger to the often-serene environments. Longtime fans will also recognize callbacks to previous titles in some very familiar enemies, areas, and musical tracks presented throughout the game.

While most of the core Etrian Odyssey games outside of the Untold spin-offs have less of a focus on story than other RPGs, Nexus' storytelling is a high point for the series as whole. EO has traditionally let its story unfold through gradual exploration and careful, well-placed NPC dialogue when necessary, rather than through lengthy text dumps and cinematics. Over the course of the Nexus adventure, you encounter numerous NPCs both in town and while exploring, all of whom have flavorful dialogue and well-conveyed personalities without being overly wordy. You also encounter various points of interest in the dungeons, described to you in richly detailed text as if hearing it from the mouth of a storyteller, where you have to make careful choices about how to proceed. It's all fantastically done and does a spectacular job of letting you feel like part of the world without being overbearing.

Nexus' storytelling is a high point for the series as whole... It's all fantastically done and does a spectacular job of letting you feel like part of the world without being overbearing.

There's not much new to combat--it's still turn-based, and you've got the Force Boost/Break system from Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 for every class--but it's just as intense as ever, with even low-level enemies poised to offer a serious threat if you aren't paying attention. The flora and fauna of each area varies slightly, requiring you to do your homework and observe enemy types and their attacks--especially the FOEs, extremely dangerous enemies that roam the dungeons (usually in patterns) and can absolutely wreck you if you bumble into battle unprepared. Sometimes, however, it feels like Nexus' pacing in terms of hazards and enemy threats feels off.

I played on standard ("Basic") difficulty, and there were a few times where I'd finish one dungeon and head to the next only to get totally trounced from the standard enemies there, as though I were still a few levels behind. There are also a few points where the game springs some major battles on you without much warning. For example, at one point fairly early on, there are two major boss battles one right after the other, the latter being a complete surprise. While you do get a free health refill between these two fights, springing the extra battle on you so early without giving you a chance to regroup is rude and exhausting even by the series' standards of challenging encounters.

Despite a few small stumbles, the grandiose adventure Etrian Odyssey Nexus delivers is a rewarding, engaging journey you'll be glad to take. The feeling of discovery as you and your band of merry adventurers venture bravely into the unknown, fighting one fierce battle after another and growing stronger along the way, is tremendously fun, and Nexus does it better than any other game in the series yet. This is definitely the last EO game on the 3DS, and it has an air of finality to it that makes it feel like it could be a closer for the series as a whole--which I hope isn't the case. I'm ready for many map-making expeditions in the future. But if this really is the end, then Etrian Odyssey goes out on a high note.

Categories: Games

New Gameplay Today – The Division 2's Open World And Endgame

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 17:00

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Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Last month, we showed you how The Division 2 was changing up its dark-zone formula. Today, we've got a look at its open world and endgame content. 

I got to spend several hours playing the game, and Leo and I have plenty to say about it – from its opening salvo on the White House lawn to a mission against heavily armed soldiers in the National Air and Space Museum. 

The Division 2 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15.

Categories: Games

Breaking Down The Enemy Factions

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 17:00
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Seven months after New York City was ravaged by the Green Poison, the fate of Washington, D.C. hangs in the balance. Several different factions have arisen in the chaos, each of which has its own ideology, visual style, and way of approaching combat in the largely abandoned city streets. During a recent hands-on event for The Division 2, we got to fight several of these groups, and later got a debriefing from the creative minds behind these enemies.

When players work their way through the campaign and open world, they’ll spend much of their time battling three main factions. That’s not all the game has in store for players, however. Once the campaign is finished, another group infiltrates the world, in both endgame-oriented missions and the streets of D.C. itself. It’s an interesting way to keep the game fresh in the longterm, and it speaks to the importance that Ubisoft sees in having a variety of different groups to battle as opposed to an unending series of paramilitary clones.  

“For me, that is the core building block of the game, the shooting challenge that each one of the factions and each one of the archetypes represents,” says Julian Gerighty, the game’s creative director. “The narrative wrapper is super important, but first you start off with what are the challenges in front of you. Are they organized? How do they cooperate together? Is it chaotic? You need to find these profiles, and then you sort of work on the narrative, doing a sort of top-down approach – ‘OK, it’s seven months later, who would be in this world?’ It still remains a video game, so factions are intrinsically game-y. But we need to lean into that and make it something that’s recognizable and visible, and you anticipate your strategies with the different archetypes of each faction. That’s absolutely part of the process there, and it’s something I think we’ve done super well in terms of just the fun of facing off against the factions.”

The first faction players are likely to encounter are the Hyenas. They’re fierce fighters, and their intensity is amplified thanks to use of a drug called spice. While engaging with these guys, an indicator will occasionally pop up above their head, showing that they’re in the process of cracking open some of the drug capsules. If you don’t interrupt them in time (the same way you stop an enemy from chucking a grenade), they’ll get a small health boost and an influx of artificially induced confidence. “They’re about basic stuff like assault rifles, but also about getting right in your face with batons as well,” says senior lead designer Keith Evans. “They’re basically anarchists. They’re totally the wild card in the city. ‘Everything has been destroyed, why are we trying to rebuild this? Burn it all down.’ That’s really where they’re at. They’re at the end of their rope, basically.”

The next group isn’t quite as aggro – which makes them a little scarier. The True Sons see themselves as the rightful heirs to this new America, and they’re prepared to use force to make their goals a reality. “They’re kind of the more militaristic of the three main factions,” Evans says. “They’re a paramilitary group that banded together and are most similar to the LMBs (Last Man Battalion) from the first game. They think they can assume power, so they’re trying to take over and actually regain control of the city. They want to have a real foothold and start gaining power around the city.” Where the Hyenas are content to charge in and wreck stuff, True Sons make use of cover and work together to take down their opponents – which include the other A.I. factions. 

We didn’t get to see the next faction, the Outcasts, in action, so they remain more of a mystery. Evans says they’re a group of religious extremists who have banded together in D.C. How that manifests itself to the player is something we’ll have to wait to discover.

Waiting and discovery is a huge component of the Black Tusk faction. As mentioned earlier, players won’t meet these units until the end of the game. They’re the best of the best, showing a military discipline (and quartermaster access) that’s likely to make every Division agent envious. “They fight very much like a spec-ops unit, where they’re always angling their torso toward you doing suppressive fire,” Evans says. “They never just sprint to the next piece of cover, they’re working more as a group – plus they have all the big fun toys, like the big dogs and the heavy weapons and things like that. We’re holding back on a lot of story secrets for the Black Tusks, because it’s very tied into the end of the game – I won’t say it’s a twist, but it’s something I want players to experience.”

One of the things Ubisoft was keenly aware of going into The Division 2’s development was the importance of endgame content. The first game launched with fairly anemic offerings, which were built up and addressed through an ambitious series of updates. The team behind the sequel is determined not to make the same mistakes.

“Having the Black Tusks saved for endgame is kind of a gift, personally, that’s what it feels like,” Evans says. “We had to plan for it from the beginning, it was kind of that whole idea of having that endgame focus, and it took a lot of planning to make sure we weren’t just pulling stuff from the main game. We wanted that to be meaty, and then plus plus.”

For more on The Division 2, check out our New Gameplay Today, which shows the game in action, as well as features on its cosmetics and the 10 biggest takeaways from our hands-on time with the game.

Categories: Games

10 Big Takeaways From Hands-On With The Open World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 17:00

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Last week, we got to spend several hours with the Division 2. During that time, we explored the ruined streets of Washington, D.C., cleared a few side missions, helped some settlements, and skipped ahead to check out one of the endgame missions. There was a lot to absorb, but here are our 10 biggest takeaways. 

(For more on The Division 2, check out our New Gameplay Today, which shows the game in action, as well as features on its new factions and the cosmetics element.)

Taking back the White House

Our day began with a memorable mission: Our Division agent stormed the White House, which was under siege. After eliminating the threat, we moved into the building, which has been transformed into the Division’s base of operations. Folding tables and supply crates lined the hallways of the building, which made for a jarring scene. “It just felt natural,” says creative director Julian Gerighty. “If you’ve ever been to the White House, it’s actually fairly small-scale. It feels like it could be a base of operations. So where better to lead the rebuilding of the city and the country than the White House? For me, it’s an obvious thing.” New York’s post office HQ was an important hub in the first game, but it’s hard to beat the symbolism attached to the White House.

Urban renewal

Once we settled into our White House digs, we headed out to a nearby settlement. These spaces are more ambitious and important than they were in the first game, and players can have more of an impact on their direction. Donate enough resources, and new structures can be added within these walled compounds. “One of the issues with shared-world shooters or shared-world games is that because they’re shared worlds, it’s very hard to show personal impact,” Gerighty says. “Creating spaces where you can have a direct one-to-one recognition of your efforts that comes through not only in the audio cues of people saying, ‘Hey, thanks for that, agent,’ but it’s also that you go out and help the settlement and you find something for them, and it appears in the settlement. You see, through your efforts, that life is coming back – and it’s not just food and shelter, but it’s also art and it’s also music and things like that.”

The time jump is significant

Seven months may not seem like a huge leap, but the difference in how things are in the first Division and its sequel are stark. Nature is working to reclaim D.C., with plants overtaking street signs and roads cracked and heaving in places. The NPCs you encounter have their acts together in ways The Division’s New Yorkers didn’t. During my time in the streets, I didn’t encounter anyone wandering around looking for a bottle of water. Instead, I saw small groups of survivors working together to forage their own supplies. “The civilians that are still there are fighters,” Gerighty says. “They’re out in the streets trying to survive. They’re looking for the resources that they need, so they’re not the helpless civilians that you saw in the first game. That’s super important to me.”

Civilians are here to help, too

Not only can the civilian NPC take care of themselves, they can help you out, too. Certain sections of the city can be taken over by enemy factions, and players have to reclaim them if they want to maintain order. “You can get into the area and scout it out, and then shoot this flare to call in reinforcements before you attack, and civilians will come,” says senior lead designer Keith Evans. “Unlike a lot of our NPCs from the first game, they’ll actually help you fight. They really can help swing the battle.” After you’ve reclaimed the area, you can donate supplies and perform other tasks to keep the friendly civilians in power. After all, the stronger they are, the better they’re able to battle enemy factions and hold territory on their own.

Welcome to the simulation

Apparently, there’s more going on with civilians than their ability to fire weapons and not dying of thirst in the streets. As we roamed the open world, we saw groups leaving for and returning from foraging excursions. That’s not just for show, according to Ubisoft. “No matter where you are in the world – you could be playing a mission or in the dark zone – the settlements and the civilians there, plus all the factions, are running a simulation across the entire open world,” Evans says. “You can open up the megamap and see some of their behavior. If one settlement has become really strong and in another you haven’t done enough in that part of the world and it’s becoming overtaken, their supplies are dwindling, this faction might start a trade route to trade with the other settlement. And that’s an actual route that the A.I. takes, and it might get intercepted by other factions who might steal their supplies. It’s kind of happening in the background, and you can always step in and affect it.”

Weather systems

D.C.’s weather is a lot more dynamic than New York City in the wintertime – or at least it is in The Division. “We wanted to have something that we could play around with a little bit more,” Gerighty says. “So you have thunderstorms. You have thick, pea-soup style fog in the evenings and in the mornings. You’ve got rain. There’s a lot more variety in the types of weather and times of day that you can get within this setting.” We did have a small skirmish in the streets during one especially foggy period, and it completely changed the sensation of battle. Without clear sightlines, we had to move from cover to cover more cautiously, since I didn’t know where my enemies were. They weren’t granted superhuman sight, fortunately, which could have been frustrating. Not only was it visually impressive, but it changed what would have been a fairly ordinary encounter. 

Fun with factions

The Division 2’s factions are a big part of the game (go here for a more in-depth look), and the dev team is rightfully enthusiastic about what these groups bring to D.C. “The 1 through 30 of the campaign, the factions you fight are, personally, I think they’re more interesting than the first game across the board, because they’ve all incorporated the best elements of the first game,” Evans says. “I love the cleaners from the first game, and it was always fun throughout the whole campaign to pop the weak point on their back and have them explode or move into their buddies and do these chain reactions. You’ll notice now that a lot of the factions have these little weak points where they don’t always explode, but it’ll be a heavy-weapons guy and you can shoot the belt on his gun and it’ll force him to reload and open himself up to an attack. They all have these little intricacies that I think make them more interesting. There are other little things, too, like fighting a red bar enemy versus the elite with the yellow bar, each time you level them up they gain new attributes – it’s not just about them getting more health. Their baton will be an electrified baton that can lock you down in place, or the suicide bomber will explode in fire, things like that, where you really have to be on your toes.”

Peace through superior firepower

Enemy factions can take over territory and alternately neutralized in various neighborhoods. Is it possible to negotiate a larger peace through the campaign? The short answer, as I found out, is “Nope.” “It’s not that kind of game,” Gerighty says. “This is a cover-based shooter. Your character, the agent, doesn’t have a voice, there’s no negotiation possible there. Negotiation is with a handgun, and that’s pretty much it. It’s just something that we are. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to stick with that in the future, but today we’re a cover-based shooter and we’re leaning into that.”

Gear is good

Item drops are a major component of The Division 2, with fallen enemies often leaving tantalizing pillars of light as their virtual tombstones. The first game had an in-depth endgame built up around gear sets, but Ubisoft felt there was plenty of room for improvement.  “The gear game in the first game, we had a pretty limited set of gear until we started adding gear sets,” Evans says. “Then there were very random talents on everything. It became an Easter egg hunt to find the good min-max build, and you really had to go online. This time, what we’ve done is we want to give you clearer goals to grind toward, so all the gear is split into brands. We’re shipping with over 10 different brands, and just by collecting the brands you get this simpler goal to grind for up front, if you just match the symbols you’re going to be unlocking bonuses, and we’re hoping that’s going to be a good onboard to people to uncover the whole depth of the RPG, because throughout the leveling game it deepens and then in endgame when we’re adding exotic weapons and other parts. It gets complicated, but I think in a really good way that adds a lot of depth. We’re just trying to make it more accessible up front, really focusing on that 1 through 30 and getting people sucked into it.”

Critter killing is optional

When we said nature was reclaiming D.C., we weren’t kidding. The city is teeming with animal life, including deer, rats, dogs, and more. While you can shoot each of these animals, don’t expect any rewards for your efforts. “We have a deep crafting system that’s much deeper than the first game,” Evans says. “But we wanted to tie that more into scavenging. There’s not a hunting aspect to the game, but that’s there to… you’ll notice that the animals in D.C. are totally different from the animals that were in New York. We wanted to tie that into selling the believability of the space. You’ll find foxes or raccoons that duck under cars if you get close to them, and there’s even vultures that will attack other animals or bald eagles that are rare in that area of the country.” In other words, you won’t be using pelts to make ammo pouches, or anything weird like that.

The Division 2 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15.

Categories: Games

Looking Sharp In Dystopian D.C.

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 17:00
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The Division’s “winter in New York City” setting was a break from the deserts and sunny summers we often encounter in shooters. It also had a big effect on the game’s character customization, with Division agents who were dressed for the elements – beanies, winter coats, boots, and all. The Division 2 shifts the action to the muggier climate of Washington, D.C. in the summer, which naturally effects how players dress for their parts. 

We were disappointed that the build we played during our hands-on time with the game didn’t include cosmetic drops, but we were able to talk to some members of the dev team to learn how they were approaching that element of the game. Not everyone cares about how they look in shooters, but for those of us who enjoy that aspect, it’s interesting to see what’s changing.

“One of the things that I love, and it feeds into RPGs particularly well, is the customization and the look of your character,” says creative director Julian Gerighty. “In the Division 1, because of winter, you were kind of stuck. It was the beanie, the big jacket, and that was it. This allows us to do so much more. I think that’s important for players to see an avatar that resembles the fantasy that they want to play to.”

While that fantasy is important, Gerighty says maintaining a degree of realism is also something they’ve had to pay attention to – at least, at the beginning. “When the game first launches, we need to stick to a fantasy, and that fantasy is you’re not an elite soldier. A Division agent is you or me. It’s people who decide to do something for the greater good when disaster hits. It’s not the classic Clancy elite soldier. So this military theming, it’s something we want to shy away from. If you want to wear shorts or capris and a tank top, that’s entirely possible. If you want to go super strange and wear a Santa suit or whatever, that’s going to be fine. But not at launch.”

Gerighty recognizes that people do want to get weird sometimes, whether it’s dressing like an astronaut or donning that Santa suit, but that there’s a way to get those elements into the game in ways that make sense. “Maybe there’s a costume shop on Pennsylvania Avenue that you break into and you can find some bunny suits and some Santa Claus items – whatever – you can ground those things. At launch, because it’s a shared-world shooter, you don’t want to see a bunny go into the Grand Washington Hotel in front of you. ‘C’mon, follow me!’ [laughs] We’re still role-playing, we’re still building that identity of what this world is.”

We weren’t able to adjust the cosmetic layer, but gear such as gloves, kneepads, backpacks, and the rest was reflected on our character as we switched it up, just as it was in the first game. “In the final version, you can tweak almost everything,” says senior lead designer Keith Evans. “We’ve added more. You can pretty much change anything at will. In the first game, there were just some limitations to it; you’d put on glasses in the very beginning and they were there forever. So we’ve addressed things like that, and we’ve also added things that are gained through gameplay and achievements.”

Being able to passively brag about your accomplishments via visual flair is a fun part of gaming, and that manifests itself through new backpack trophies. “Those can be earned by doing all sorts of things in the game, like maybe achieving the max level of the conflict rank or clearing out all the missions,” Evans says. “So you get these different rewards that show off your achievements, and we’ll be adding more post-launch. It’s just a fun way to specialize your character. And there are tons of things you can find in the world – plus, it’s summer now, so there are shorts! And jean shorts that you can go out and save the world in. And sandals!”

Jean shorts and sandals? Suddenly, that bunny suit doesn’t seem so bad.

For more on The Division 2, check out our New Gameplay Today, which shows the game in action, as well as features on its new factions and the 10 biggest takeaways from our hands-on time with the game.

Categories: Games

Final Fantasy XIV's Next Expansion Coming In July, Includes Nier: Automata Crossover Raid

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 22:18
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: March 31, 2011 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 3, PC

At this year's Paris fan festival, Square Enix announced some new details on the upcoming expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, Shadowbringers, including a release date and a new raid series based on Nier: Automata.

First, the publisher announced a release date for the upcoming expansion: July 2. Accompanying the news is a new cinematic trailer, including a quick look at the new Gunbreaker class. There's also a dedicated trailer for the Gunbreaker, showing off what they can do, as well as our first look at the new playable race, the Viera, the rabbit-eared people featured in Final Fantasy XII.

Click here to watch embedded media

Click here to watch embedded media

Click here to watch embedded media

Nier: Automata director and executive producer Yoko Taro and Yosuke Saito also appeared in the keynote as part of a video announcing that the next alliance raid for the game will feature a crossover with their game. As with most post-release raid content, this crossover is endgame content, which likely means you'll need a fully-leveled character to participate.

https://twitter.com/FF_XIV_EN/status/1091636106280529925

In addition to the new Gunbreaker class, Shadowbringers will feature nine new dungeons, a reworked battle system, a new as of yet unannounced job class and village, and a new game plus option that lets players go back through older story missions with a higher-level character.

[Source: Square Enix via RockPaperShotgun]

Categories: Games

The Film Groundhog Day Is Getting VR Game Sequel

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 20:20
Publisher: Sony Pictures VR Developer: Tequila Works Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation VR, Rift, Vive

Here's something new to wake up to: Tequila Works, the developer behind Rime and The Sexy Brutale is making a VR game sequel to the classic Harold Ramis film starring Bill Murray Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son stars Phil Connors Jr., son of the protagonist from the original Groundhog Day film, as he becomes trapped in his own one-day time loop in the town of Punxsutawney "until he learns the true value of friends and family," according to Tequila Works.

The game is published by the new VR wing of Sony Pictures, which recently released the Ghostbusters VR game, Now Hiring. “This is us expanding the [Groundhog Day] storyline into a new format," Sony Pictures VR group senior vice president told Variety. “When we launched this business three years ago, we thought we would build small bite-sized games with movie IPs and see what price point we could get up to." After learning the market wasn't receptive to that idea, Zim said, they went a little more ambitious with Like Father Like Son, which he says is "a real attempt to make a real game."

According to Variety, the game is a branching narrative adventure game, with dialogue options that open up new paths. You can watch a trailer for the game below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Categories: Games

Anthem's Endgame Still Needs To Prove Itself

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/01/2019 - 16:00

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Between an alpha period, press coverage (including our own cover story), and last week’s tumultuous VIP demo, most people have a good idea of what Anthem feels and plays like in its early hours. But with BioWare angling the game as a shooter/RPG with a long tail, we’re still missing one crucial piece of the puzzle: the endgame. This aspect of ongoing games like Anthem is the hardest to assess initially, since it only becomes clear after dozens of hours.

We recently had the chance to play a lot of Anthem at a press event, including one endgame-oriented session. For this, we were provided a fully leveled character and set out searching for high-quality guns, components, and abilities. While we can’t say for sure how Anthem holds up when it comes to keeping players engaged after launch, my time with the game (as well as my conversation with executive producer Mark Darrah) shed some light on what Anthem’s endgame might be like when it releases later this month. Here are my four major takeaways.

Endgame missions aren’t too different from earlier ones

Anthem’s endgame, as you might have guessed, involves completing repeat missions and other activities for better rewards. I played a trio of missions with a fully-leveled storm javelin. The first was The Tyrant Mine stronghold that was part of last weekend’s VIP demo, so I won’t delve into that mission here. The other two were the Threat Assessment legendary contract and The Temple of Scar stronghold. Combined, they show how Anthem’s late-game content is similar to what we’ve played before, albeit with some minor twists.

Threat Assessment felt immediately familiar, as my team and I flew from one combat arena to the other following an objective marker. Defeating enemies spawning from portals, recovering fragments scattered around the map – if you’ve played the demo, you know what you’re getting into. The encounters were fun (in part because I could mess around with a decked-out storm), but don’t expect anything wildly different from your early hours doing contracts. 

The Temple of Scar, however, was a much more satisfying stronghold than The Tyrant Mine. The Temple of Scar’s arenas felt more intricate than anything I'd played of Anthem. The encounters took place in large, vertical areas with imposing towers, nooks, and hallways intermingling, which meant I was able to consistently use flight to prioritize targets mid-combat rather than as a way to simply travel from fight to fight. 

The boss of this stronghold, a quadruped Scar war machine called Scelos, was protected by an impenetrable shield maintained by three separate contraptions at the edges of the arena. In order to break the shield, my team had to weave behind the contraptions' rotating propellers and shoot the glowing weak point on the machine’s stem. Once those were destroyed, we had a brief window to deal damage. Each time we had to open him up, the weak point would become more thoroughly protected. It was a fairly standard boss encounter overall, but it was the best time I’ve had playing Anthem yet.

One nagging feeling I had during this session was that everything looked familiar, even if the areas I was visiting were technically new. Anthem’s lush jungle biome is a gorgeous locale, to be sure, but I was hoping for more environmental variety at this later phase of the game. Maybe not a fire or ice level, but something that gave me a sense that Anthem's world is a planet as opposed to a single ecosystem.

I’m not sure if this particular biome is everything we’ll see of Anthem, or if BioWare is holding off on showing off other distinct locales. But competitors like Destiny and Warframe are well-known for their arresting locales as much as their gear loops and gameplay, so I’m hoping Anthem can deliver more visual diversity.

The endgame is where classes really shine

Fully leveled javelins have many more tools to work with than their low-level counterparts, even if the basic gameplay is similar. While my storm’s three key abilities (a ranged explosion that needs to be aimed, a beam or blast of some sort, and a support ability) didn’t fundamentally change, I was able to play around with different versions of these attacks, altering their elements and properties to create a different build.

In the VIP demo, for example, the storm’s explosion could be used to cast lightning or fire, while its beam attack fired a barrage of ice crystals. After a little tinkering, I was able to transform the explosion into an ice blast that instantly froze enemies, making for some easy follow-up combos. The ice barrage, meanwhile, became a fireball I could charge up by holding down the ability button. Although these changes were relatively minor, they altered my approach to combat just enough to feel robust.

And looking at the number of options I had, it’s clear that each javelin has the potential for many different builds – enough that it might not be outlandish to have multiple people run the same class for a stronghold. This variety also makes it easier to adapt your build to your teammates as you coordinate around specific combos.

As for how adaptable players will be when it comes to switching javelins, BioWare doesn’t want your choice of javelin to be completely fluid, but not static, either. While executive producer Mark Darrah hopes players will have a primary, go-to class, he doesn’t want players to feel like switching classes for a high-level encounter is out of the question. “We do want to encourage you to at least keep a toe in on the other on the other suits,” he says. “We’ll give you challenges around that. Just encourage you to keep [switching], because there will be things where you may want to be a Colossus, even though it’s not your first choice, you want to know enough that you can switch out to the Colossus in order to play.”

The loot may need some work

The demo I played was meant to lay out how Anthem's endgame works, from the loops you engage in to the loot that drops from them. Unfortunately, if my experience is indicative of what we can expect from Anthem's loot at launch, that carrot at the end of the stick that loot provides might need some work.

During my run at The Temple of Scar, I got my first masterwork drop, the highest rarity of item in Anthem. It made the kind of distinct, exciting noise you might expect from a coveted drop in a loot-based game, but I wasn’t able to see what it was until after I’d completed the stronghold. I ended up getting a masterwork elemental empowerment for my Storm that offered some pretty powerful stat increases. It... kind of bummed me out, to be honest. 

While I don’t doubt this particular piece of gear is strong, it lacked a certain panache I’ve come to associate with rare gear in video games. When I think of some of the gear I’ve chased after, it usually has some sort of flashy look (which, admittedly, components in Anthem can’t display) or interesting mechanic that requires you to adapt your strategy. Maybe it offers an enticing, unique bonus beyond stat boosts. I’m reminded of The Monkey King’s Garb set in Diablo III, or any number of exotic guns or armor pieces in Destiny that alter the way you play your class in small-but-meaningful ways, and this piece of gear doesn't do that.

It also highlighted how interchangeable many parts of Anthem’s weaponry feel. While class abilities are a great way to make your character feel unique, I didn’t get that sense from the guns I wielded. Although there are several different types of guns in Anthem, I didn’t feel a unique kick or cadence to individual heavy pistols or marksman rifles, even in the endgame. This made gunplay feel like a perfunctory part of the experience – something to do while the fun class and melee abilities were on cooldown. Stat buffs are nice, but I want new tools to play around with, or guns that feel cool to use.

In that way (and because I didn’t receive a masterwork weapon), I’m hoping what I experienced in my demo wasn’t representative of the final game, and Darrah assures me endgame gear will look and feel distinct, both visually and statistically. “We want legendary gear to to be impressive, but also a lot of it is about having you know very specific characteristics, like this gun, when you get a headshot, makes your missile launcher do extra cold damage for the next 15 seconds,” he says. “That kind of proc is really where the power comes in, but then we definitely also anchor with visuals and the like. You get to show off your awesome gear, too.”

Hopefully, that'll be the case, and the gear I'm running loops for proves to be worth the effort.

Anthem’s loops seem light and freeform

Although you’ll be chasing certain guns, abilities, and cosmetic items as you spend time completing stronghold and contracts, what kinds of activities you want to pursue in Anthem’s endgame depends on what you want to get out of your time. If you need materials to craft a certain item, exploring Anthem’s world in freeplay is the way to do it. If you want to get stronger, contracts are the way to go, and strongholds are where you’re likely to get better gear.

Layered on top of those activities are the usual daily, weekly, and monthly challenges common in MMOs and online shooters, here encouraging you to pull off ability combos, use different weapons, and more, which provide incentives for switching out gear or classes.

No matter what you’re doing, however, you won’t be forced to grind a single kind of activity or mission to get a particular gun. “It’s really about efficiency as opposed to saying, ‘I want this specific gun, which means I should do this specific stronghold with this specific group of people,’” Darrah says. “We aren’t doing that.” 

However, there are rare guns, abilities, and cosmetic gear to chase, and those are tied to certain kinds of activities – just not individual missions, contracts, or strongholds. You won’t be locked into looping the same mission over and over to get them. That could all change post-launch, however, as BioWare looks at the what the community wants and adapts in turn. “As people settle into the elder game I can see us providing more of that anchored, specific drop, but we aren’t doing that right now,” Darrah says.

Wrap-up

My time with Anthem’s endgame gave me a better idea of what to expect once I’ve reached the end of its initial offerings, but I’m not sure I have the full picture just yet when it comes to its endgame. With a number of crucial aspects of a satisfying loot experience (like masterwork weapons) still up in the air even after my demo, it’s hard to say how compelled I’ll be to jump into Anthem over the long haul post-release.

Anthem is a different kind of game for BioWare, one that deviates from the studio’s established roots in many ways, and Darrah wants to make that clear to everyone. “I wanted to make sure that no one could accuse us of trying to trick them into buying a game that was different than what they were used to,” he says. If that decision means once-passionate fans end up walking away this time around, “that’s unfortunate, but at least we’re not tricking them out of their $60.”

In that sense, my demo did what it set out to do. Despite some major lingering questions, I think I know what kind of game Anthem will be now. I just hope the missing pieces come together the way I’d like them to.

For more on Anthem, check out our recent New Gameplay Today of the game, an interview with lead producer Mike Gamble about how the game might evolve after launch, and a tips guide for getting into this weekend’s demo.

Categories: Games

New Gameplay Today – Crackdown 3

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/01/2019 - 14:00

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Sumo Digital Release: February 15, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: Xbox One, PC

The original Crackdown swung onto store shelves in 2007 and immediately surprised me with its unique aesthetic, engaging power growth, and ahead-of-its-time nonlinear story progression. Imran recently got to play a few hours of the upcoming sequel, and came away with the impression that it's keeping all those key features to the point of having a nostalgic feel.

Hanson joined me to peruse the footage and get a better idea of the game, which has been in development for five years at this point. Everything we saw looked like an updated version of the original Crackdown, and all that remains to be seen is if that's still engaging all these years later. Enjoy the video up above for a look at the campaign, multiplayer, and an early boss fight!

For more Crackdown 3, read Imran's written preview right here.

Categories: Games

Reinforcements Incoming

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/01/2019 - 13:59

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Sumo Digital Release: February 15, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: Xbox One, PC

It has been a strange ride for Crackdown 3 since the game’s first announcement in 2014 at the first E3. Through the years, the game got new footage, multiple delays, features deferred or minimized, and set a general tone of not being worth the wait. While I can’t say whether Crackdown 3 is worth the wait after my few hours with it, as someone who had not been confident in the game’s quality over the years, I came away having liked what I played. Perhaps this is an obvious statement, but Crackdown 3 feels like Crackdown, for better or worse.

The agency has caught wind of a new city with new problems and has arrived to help. The big boss sits in a skyscraper on the central island, guarded by poison and actual elite guards, ready to take on whichever agents come after her. Despite the ending of the first Crackdown, Crackdown 3 mostly ignores the first game’s final twist, and brings the Agency director back to whisper stern encouragement into your year.

There have been ten years of evolution in the open world space since Crackdown first released, emphasizing non-linearity in its campaign structure. The problem is that other games have done exactly that in the years since in ways that built on the things Crackdown and plenty of other titles iterated on. Crackdown 3 goes back to a simpler time where you’re given a set of objectives and are simply tasked with doing them in any way you see fit. If you want to head to the final boss’ corporate tower from the beginning of the game, you’re allowed to try.

“We were really happy when [The Legend of Zelda] Breath of the Wild came out,” said Joseph Staten, creative director at Microsoft. “One, because it was an amazing game and we are always happy when a game of that quality comes out. Two, because we saw that they were doing what we were doing, too.”

Bosses are littered around the map with different methods to draw them out. The Chimera tycoon Reza Khan is mining the poison out of the ground for the benefit of the villains, so the best way to get his attention is to wreck up all his mining equipment. No game does the shock and awe of guerrilla warfare with superpowers quite like Crackdown does and, in that sense, Crackdown 3 is like hanging out with an old friend again. You can land in an area with a super punch, shoot up the mining equipment, and get out of dodge before the reinforcements even get there.

A different, perhaps even stranger ride for Crackdown has been as a three-game series over the last decade. While the first Crackdown was a surprising cult hit that happened to be packaged with a Halo 3 beta, the sequel was critically and commercially panned. Crackdown 2 reused the city from the first game, filled it with zombie monsters, and genuinely failed to impress. When speaking with Staten, he continually referred to Crackdown 3 as a real sequel to Crackdown, so I asked him what makes Crackdown 3 different from its predecessor.

“You know, Crackdown 2, the development for that was really short, I think 18 months,” Staten told me. “They had to make compromises. We wanted to make sure that, since it’s been a while since there’s been a Crackdown game, new players aren’t overwhelmed by legacy story. If you love Crackdown, though, if you really did enjoy the first game, we wanted to make sure you got the best possible modern version of that.”

The multiplayer pits players against each other in a virtual arena that contains the destructibility element that Microsoft originally announced the game with. While the single-player campaign no longer contains the cloud-based physics necessary to power building destruction, the multiplayer uses it for every single surface aside from the base-level floor. That means that you can land on the top of a tower and punch your way through to an enemy at the bottom. Conversely, you can demolish a tower from the bottom and bring an annoying sniping enemy down to your level. Online multiplayer looks like it could be promising fun, provided you like seeing buildings come crashing down.

I did also ask if there were discussions at any level about bundling Crackdown 3 with a Halo Infinite beta. The answer was a flat no.

It’s hard to say whether Crackdown’s comforting familiarity will sustain over an entire game or just a short burst of time. It will depend not just on the structure, but the variety of mission objectives within that structure. Crackdown 3 has a lot to prove, but if its best quality is feeling like a newer, tighter version of the Xbox 360 original, then that might not be the worst thing.

If you want to see the game's campaign in motion, check out our New Gameplay Today showing off a bit of what you can expect from Microsoft's newest exclusive game.

Categories: Games

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